I know, I know, (enough already) finally a Coachella Report. It's taken some time to let it all soak in. The festival, once again this year, did not disappoint. I witnessed enough memorable music to last me all year. A perfect weekend vacation, the Indio desert was HOT, however, overall much milder than in years past. Nearly 100,000 music lovers showed up each day of the festival! (All of which wanted a picture with yours truly, but more about that in a bit.)
Friday afternoon, me and my friends drove out to Palm Springs and then to Joshua Tree. I've been before several times, but it's always a tranquil and spiritual experience (even without the mind-altering substances.) We climbed around on the rocks and took in the other-worldly scenery- like no place else on earth. This region is also famous for it's DATES, even more specifically, THE DATE SHAKE! My friends had never tried a Date Shake before, so on our way out to Joshua Tree we stopped by a quaint little market to have some mouth-altering enjoyment! I admit, I felt a little guilty about turning my friends on to the creamy delights because they are equivalent to Crack Cocaine in addictiveness..... Well, of course I'm exaggerating, but man, are they DELICIOUS! Don't pass up the opportunity to try one the next time you're out in these parts. After Joshua Tree, we headed to a local restaurant / bar in town called "PAPI & HARRIETTE'S", they have live music and great B-B-Q. Consequently, another friend of mine had jammed on stage at Papi & Harriette's with Robert Plant a couple month back. You never know who's gonna come through. The desert has a constant eb and flow of musicians who record and perform and find inspiration in this grand oasis.
This year's Coachella festival was different for me in many ways. First difference was that I didn't camp out this year at the nearby campgrounds. I was able to stay at my friend's friend's house just a few miles away from the Indio Polo Fields where the festival takes place. Second BIG difference was that in years past, I was able to run around the festival in anonymity without a care in the world. This year's experience I will liken to what it's like being Ronald McDonald at a 5 year old's birthday party. Boy, am I popular! (more about that in a bit.)
Finally, Saturday morning, Day 1 of the Coachella Festival! We make another quick pit-stop at the Date Shake spot (Addictive?) and then we are on our way. The sun is kickin' and I realize that none of us brought any sunscreen. (ALWAYS REMEMBER YOUR SUNSCREEN!!!!) It's fine, I know that they sell everything inside of the festival grounds. The price will be highly inflated but, sunscreen, nonetheless, they will have for sale. I'm actually surprised that they even let you bring your own in? The biggest travesty regarding Coachella is that they don't allow you bring in your own water! (even unopened) So, all day long you either pay for $2 bottles of water or dehydrate and die! Anyway, so we park, we make our way into the festival and almost immediately, at intervals of about every 5 seconds, someone is screaming my name and / or grabbing my arm and making a German spectacle of themselves. ( Happy Meals, anyone?) I understand it goes with the territory now, and it's all PURE LOVE..... However, I look over to my friends that I'm with, and I instantly feel bad that they have to deal with walking around with me. It was painfully obvious that this was just the tip of the McFlurry. I've grown accustomed to similar situations, so I knew to expect my fair share of this attention. My friend's however, didn't pay $160 to not be able to take 10 paces before someone jumped in front of them to slow their roll! I would've completely understood, had they ditched me, but they didn't and we all tried to just have a good time and make light of some of the crazy commotion! I had the option of V.I.P. backstage access but declined because it was only plus 1 and I was with 3 friends. Also, V.I.P. at Coachella completely defeats the purpose. Just buy the fuckin' video, if you're gonna go and hideout backstage! Yes, Yes, there's an open bar and free catered food, but whatever, I've come to have a great time with friends. I want the real experience. We persevere and witness great music from the front of the stage, just like I've done ever year. Fuck, We need sunscreen!!! We're baking and I start trading photo-ops for rations of sunscreen. Not just for me, for me and my crew.... It ain't no fun if the Homies can't have none! We locate the general store and purchase 2 bottles of sunscreen ($10 not too bad) and commence to lathering up. (Foiled again, Mr. Melanoma!) The heat and my concern for my crew has zapped my energy and we haven't even seen any bands yet! I need some coffee....or better...... Nothing quenches your desert thirst like a "LEMON-ICE!" At $5 a glass, this refreshing treat is another reason why you should head to Coachella next year even if Flock of Seagulls is headlining both nights. (Yeah, that good!) Oh, but this year I discovered something that tastes better than a "LEMON-ICE!" "What tastes better than a LEMON-ICE?" you ask.....
Yes, Fame can be a nuisance sometimes, but it's the Love from fans and lots of free shit that make it all worth while! Any vendor that recognized me as I walked up to their stand and said,"SANTINO?" I would immediately inquire back, "Does that mean it's FREE?" Indeed, in most cases, it did mean it was free. Except in one case, the young lady serving me said, "Well, no- it's not free, but it's on me!" "Whatever makes you feel better," I said. I didn't really care how she worked it out, just so I didn't have to part with another $5 for lemon-flavored ice shavings! Several dozen more photo-ops and finally we make it to our first band of the day: Hybrid featuring Perry Farrell. Perry is pretty much responsible for this festival as he had been with Lollapolooza prior. He's performed in one way or another since the festival began 7 years ago. After Hybrid the rest of the day went in this order: Lady Sovereign, Wolfmother, Common, Kanye West, Sigur Ros. Then we got a bite to eat while catching a bit of Damien "Jr. Gong" Marley, the end of Carl Cox's set, Audio Bullys, and then the reason why I showed up at all, DAFT PUNK! Daft Punk hadn't performed in the U.S. for like 9 years or some shit? So, they came to remind everyone just how bad-ass they are. Their performance was a collage of sight and sound. I would see them again in a heartbeat, INCREDIBLE! Everything Daft Punk does is perfection, there's no band like them. Day one has ended and now it's time to make it to the car without too much fanfare. Not a chance! Even under the cover of night, my big, red afro and yellow jumpsuit shined like a beacon of light to all the ships at sea. Several more pictures and then we were tired so we literally ran to the car. "Ladies and Gentlemen, Ronald McDonald has left the building!"
Sunday, Day 2! Wake, Shake, Bake..... We head out for the festival again and second verse same as the first, the day begins in similar fashion as Saturday. Here's the run-down of bands I saw: Phoenix, Matisyahu, Bloc Party, Gnarls Barkley, Paul Oakenfold, Madonna, Dungen, Massive Attack, Scissor Sisters for a few songs and then TOOL. I really enjoyed Madonna and Massive Attack's performances. Madonna was all over the place and engaging, while Massive Attack was chill trip-hop that soothed the crowd. When Sunday was over, I felt exhausted but my soul was recharged. I just went back and was reading this post aloud to myself and I wondered if it sounds a little harsh, I'm hardly whining about my poor life or some shit like that. I'm just telling you how it went down. It's as simple of a conclusion as any, by stating, there's a RIGHT way and a WRONG way to engage in some type of interaction with a stranger, celebrity or not. Those that lack the proper etiquette should take heed when approaching someone they want to talk to. It was alarming to me that it was a 60/40 ratio of positive to negative requests that I experienced. 40% is a lot and fucked up, especially because I obliged to pose in 2000 or more pictures. The following are some guidelines to help all of those that need it. If you're out somewhere and you see Ronald McDonald.... Don't freak the fuck out! BE COOL, take a deep breath. If you want a picture to prove that you've seen Ronald McDonald, now is a great time to get your camera out of your purse or bag, out of it's case, turned on, flash turned on, oops don't forget the lenscap! Don't yell Ronald's name to get his attention! At this point, Ronald has grown deaf to hearing his own name. So, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT draw anymore extra attention to Ronald McDonald by yelling his name. If you do, in many cases 20 or more fans standing right next to Ronald will be asking for pictures and grabbing at him before you could even get close enough for your own personal encounter. And personal is what it should be! Try to have your own special, intimate moment with Ronald McDonald. Casually walk up to Ronald, try to make eye contact with Ronald. Whatever you do, DO NOT touch Ronald's hair or face! Understand that what ever you're planning on doing to or with Ronald, multiply it by 1000, because that's what it's like for Ronald McDonald. Even 1000 blowjobs in 1 day is overkill for Ronald! Respect Ronald's personal space until you've properly introduced yourself. DO NOT MESS RONALD"S THREADS! Ronald is always happy to meet cool, polite, confident, young people. A great way to introduce yourself is, for example:
"Excuse me, Mr. McDonald, may I have my picture taken with you?" "Call me Ronald," he'll reply. Being low-key and polite is very important when introducing yourself. Never poke Ronald McDonald, it's not cool to poke anyone. You're just going to piss Ronald off. Don't grab or hug or bite Ronald, unless you've been granted permission and Ronald is down for creating just the right mood for the camera. Again what ever you're planning, multiply it by 1000! Trust me, you will not surprise Ronald in the least. Ronald McDonald has seen it all! Having social skills is a plus when requesting a moment with Ronald McDonald. If you spy Ronald McDonald in a crowd dancing and enjoying himself at a concert, don't be a buzzkill by disturbing Ronald's groove! Interupting Ronald's fun for your own selfish needs isn't cool. Respect Ronald's fun times as if they were your own. Wait until the song is over, or start dancing along with Ronald. If you're not in a dancing mood, wait until the song is over, there is always plenty of time to talk to Ronald between songs or even between acts. At that time Ronald would love to take a picture with you! Again, never neglect Ronald's personal space. While eating, NEVER touch Ronald's Happy Meal. Grabbing at or trying to insert Ronald's Big Mac into your mouth or demanding to taste his "Special Sauce" is completely inappropriate tablemanners. Hopefully these guidelines will be remembered and are not too complicated. The next time you see Ronald McDonald out and about, know that he will appreciate that you admire his work and would be honored to pose for a picture with you!
SEE YOU SOON! SANTINO.